Relationship built on obsession, desire and deception-what could go wrong

Killing Me Softly - Nicci French

Opening Line: “He knew he was going to die.”

Killing Me Softly is a love story but not in the typical sense; it’s obsessive, all consuming, violent, intense, desperate and ultimately terrifying. And oh my god is it good. I literally could not put this down.

If I could compare this book to anything I would say that initially it reminded me of a combination of 9 ½ weeks and that Richard Gere/Diane Lane movie from a few years ago (Unfaithful) -based on the passion, intensity and utter randomness of our couples first encounter. Of course it then unravels into a tense psychological thriller which much in a car wreck sort of way you can’t take your eyes off of. Throughout I had a feeling of this just can’t end well.

I should mention that despite the fact that the blurb on the jacket describes this book as "erotic’" all the sex scenes are off page; it’s still sexy as hell -in an alarming sort of way. And I’ll admit to being very uncomfortable in sections, shaking my head at our heroine’s decisions and basic lack of “self” (“what the hell are you thinking girl?”) I also doubted myself, doubted Alice and Adam and was left utterly raw and heartbroken by the end. Just the kind of reading experience I love.

Alice Loudon has it all: a comfortable life, a stable (nice) live-in boyfriend, a good job, clever friends, and then one day while walking down a London street on her lunch hour she sees him, standing there, staring, as if waiting for her. The attraction is immediate; it’s unexplainable, like a lightning bolt that neither of them can turn away from. He is Adam Tallis and without speaking a word she follows this complete stranger to his apartment where she proceeds to let him take her clothes off and engages in the most intense love making she has ever known. In fact with Adam she needs a new word for sex. He envelopes her, obliterates her, he is unlike any man she has ever known, and within days she is lost to him.

Abandoning everything (and I mean that literally) Alice leaves her boyfriend and moves in, within months they’re married. Nothing matters except him and them and her world becomes very small. She barely recognizes herself in the mirror anymore as Adam begins to possess every aspect of her being. He worships her, desires her, loves her in an all-consuming way and there isn’t room for anyone or anything else. Alice’s world shrinks to being just Adam; the stranger she fell in love with on a street.

Adam. Her enigmatic husband, world renowned mountain climber, guide and reluctant hero after his last expedition in the Himalayas left half of their group dead. Adam comes with a whole circle of mysterious and exotic friends and it’s when Klaus decides to write a book about the tragedy of the Chungawat expedition that Alice opens her eyes. Reality creeps in, jealousy and doubt takes hold and the tension level rises. How well does she really know this man? Told entirely from the first person we witness Alice’s inner turmoil, doubts and fears as curiosity about her husband’s past and former lovers becomes in of itself an obsession.

“What a ghastly farce it all was. Our whole marriage was built on desire and deception.”